Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Arkansas Enacts Conscience Protections For Medical Personnel

Last Friday, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signed SB289, the Medical Ethics and Diversity Act (full text). The law gives broad protection for medical practitioners, healthcare institutions, and healthcare payers who have religious, moral or ethical objections to participating in a particular healthcare service. Protections extend to a long list of providers, including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, researchers. counselors and student counselors. In his signing statement, the Governor said in part:

I support this right of conscience so long as emergency care is exempted and conscience objection cannot be used to deny general health service to any class of people. Most importantly, the federal laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, sex, gender, and national origin continue to apply to the delivery of health care services.

ADF issued a press release regarding the signing.